The spacecraft systems engineer
Jess Marshall, 33, from London, is a Spacecraft Systems Engineer. She has worked on a variety of projects designing, building and testing Spacecraft for European Space Agency missions. Originally a Brownie, Guide, and then a young leader with Girlguiding UK, Jess returned to Guiding as a leader three years ago, keen to get involved in her local community.
“As part of a team I solve problems on unique spacecrafts that are in need of ground-breaking solutions. Guides taught me to think outside the box and solve problems in creative ways, not that I always realised I was building these skills at the time. It’s exciting to watch a spacecraft being built and tested knowing that so many of my decisions fed into its creation.
“Being a patrol leader with Guides gave me the chance to take on responsibility early on, something which I have definitely been able to build on in later life. My experiences organising activities for my Patrol, whether it was leading discussions about which activities we were going to do or coordinating the set-up of camp, were formative in how I learnt to work well with other people.
“Designing a spacecraft takes many years and hundreds of people. A large part of my role now involves teamwork and coordinating with experts from all over the world.
“I have great memories of my time in Guiding as a youth member, playing games at Brownies and doing all sorts of adventurous activities as a Guide. I used to love the outdoor activities, in particular building things and learning to do knots, although I know that’s not everyone’s idea of fun! One of the great things about Guides was being able to enjoy activities, such as building fires and getting dirty, and not feeling any gender bias.
“In the UK aerospace industry, less than 10% of professionals are women so I’m used to having to get on with things despite being the only woman on a particular project. As such, it is not uncommon to be the only woman in meetings or on a team. I have confidence in my expertise and I’ve never found this to be a problem. I am passionate about my industry and am keen to ensure more women consider working in aerospace.
“Guiding is such an important space for girls, as it gives them opportunities to lead in different situations. I love volunteering as a Guide Leader now and giving the girls the same experiences that I valued so much. I particularly enjoy following the girls’ journeys, seeing how they grow in confidence and become responsible leaders themselves. Guiding gives girls and young women the freedom to try all sorts of things and I hope all the Guides I work with are able to pursue their passion just like I have been able to!”
"One of the great things about Guides was enjoying activities such as building fires and not feeling any gender bias."